Articles in TynBul 65.2 (Nov 2014)

'My Name Will Be Great among the Nations': The Missio Dei in the Book of the Twelve
Jerry Hwang (Singapore Bible College)

Recent OT scholarship has increasingly recognised that the Minor Prophets were compiled by Hebrew scribes to be read as a cohesive anthology. While acknowledging that each book of the Minor Prophets exhibits a distinctive individuality, scholars continue to debate how to interpret the collection as a coherent whole. In this vein, I propose that the major themes of the Minor Prophets-land, kingship, the move from judgement to salvation, and the relationship of Israel to the nations-find a unifying link in the missio Dei. The plan of God to redeem his entire creation is progressively unfolded in the Minor Prophets, in that the apostasy of God's people in God's land (Hosea; Joel) is but the first step in a history of redemption which culminates with the recognition by all nations that YHWH alone is worthy: 'For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations' (Mal. 1:11). As such, the missio Dei in the Minor Prophets not only provides a reading strategy for interpreting the collection as a unified Book of the Twelve; it also shows how the Minor Prophets make a unique contribution to an OT theology of mission.

The End of the Bible?: The Position of Chronicles in the Canon
Edmon L. Gallagher (Heritage Christian University)

Scholars have argued for the originality of the position of Chronicles at the end of the canon based on both external and internal considerations. As for the latter, various 'closure phenomena' allegedly indicate that Chronicles either was written for the purpose of concluding the scriptural canon or was redacted for that purpose. The external evidence includes the Talmudic order of books (b. Bava Batra 14b), various Masoretic manuscripts, and a passage from the Gospels (Matt. 23:35 // Luke 11:51). This paper argues that while Chronicles surely forms an appropriate conclusion to the Bible, the evidence to hand does not demonstrate that it actually took up its place at the end of the Bible before the rabbinic period.

Testimony in John's Gospel: The Puzzle of 5:31 and 8:14
Thomas W. Simpson (Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University)

Testimony is a central theme in John's Gospel and he has a developed view on how it works. This paper makes two contributions. First, I show the complexity and sophistication with which John handles different kinds of testimony in his narrative; this constitutes a category of evidence for the centrality of testimony not noted hitherto. Second, I address the central puzzle, namely the prima facie contradiction between 5:31 and 8:14. At issue is whether Jesus' testimony about himself requires corroborating testimony for it rationally to be believed. I argue that 8:14 has interpretative priority: according to John, no such corroboration is required.

The Letters of Claudius Terentianus and the New Testament: Insights and Observations on Epistolary Themes
Peter M. Head (Tyndale House, Cambridge)

Eleven papyrus letters from the early second century (P. Mich. 467-480 & inv. 5395) are studied in relation to parallel interests expressed within NT letters, on the topics of physical layout and formatting, discussions of health, the desire for news and the role of greetings, the role of the letter carrier and the use of letters of recommendation.

Paul's Conflicting Statements on Female Public Speaking  (1 Cor. 11:5) and Silence (1 Cor. 14:34-35): A New Suggestion
Armin D. Baum (Freie Theologische Hochschule, Giessen)

How could in 1 Corinthians women at the same time be permitted to prophesy (1 Cor. 11:5) and prohibited from asking questions (1 Cor. 14:34-35)? Read against their ancient cultural background the two texts reveal a common basic principle which lies behind both of them. According to Paul, female public speaking without male consent was unacceptable (1 Cor. 14:34-35) whereas female public speaking with male consent was tolerable if female chastity was preserved (1 Cor. 11:5).

Galatians 1-2 without a Mirror: Reflections on Paul's Conflict with the Agitators
Justin K. Hardin (Palm Beach Atlantic University)

Despite its dangers and pitfalls as an interpretive technique, mirror reading continues to enjoy pride of place as the preferred method for reconstructing the situation in Galatians. But does reflecting back the opposite of the text aid our understanding of Paul's letter, or does it merely distort the picture? In this essay, we will discuss Paul's conflict with the agitators in Galatians to reveal the inherent methodological problems of mirror reading this letter. Specifically, we will address the question whether the agitators in Galatia were questioning Paul's credentials, prompting Paul to write his lengthy narrative in Galatians 1-2. We will then evaluate recent scholars who have sought to retire the mirror in their interpretation of Paul's narrative, before ourselves providing a fresh reading of Paul's aims in Galatians 1-2. We will suggest that Paul was not defending himself (or his gospel or anything else) in Galatians. Rather, Paul was constructing a self-contrast with the agitators in an effort to persuade the Galatians to turn back to the one true gospel and to reject the judaising tactics of the agitators.

Dissertation Summaries:         

Canonical Interpretations of the Song of Songs
Rosalind S. Clarke (Stafford)

Traditional interpretations of the Song have recognised many allusions to the wider canon, which have been used as the basis for various kinds of allegorical readings. With the rise of alternative interpretations and a recent shift in focus towards methodological issues and ideological approaches to the Song, these canonical allusions have frequently been overlooked. Without advocating a return to allegorical interpretation, this thesis develops a canonical approach to the book, giving due attention to its literary, theological and ecclesiological nature. The Song proves to be a valuable test case for canonical interpretation since it is found in three distinct canonical contexts in the Hebrew Bible, the Greek Septuagint, and modern Christian Bibles.

Everything in Common?: The Theology and Practice of the Sharing of Possessions in Community in the New Testament with Particular Reference to Jesus and His Disciples, the Earliest Christians, and Paul.
 Fiona Jane Robertson Gregson (London School of Theology)

This study examines the practice and theology of sharing possessions in community in the NT by examining six diverse NT examples of sharing. The texts are chosen from across the Gospels, Acts and the Pauline Epistles in order to provide a range of examples of different kinds of sharing including variety in terms of: what is shared; the distance over which sharing happens; the geographical locations that sharing happens in; and practice. Each example is considered in its historical and cultural context before being compared with one or more non-Christian comparator examples to identify similarities and differences. These comparators are examples which show similar situations and practice, and which are likely to be known by or familiar to the community in the NT example (or which were used by others at the time as comparators). Having examined the NT examples and compared them with the non-Christian comparators, the thesis identifies common characteristics across the NT examples and consistent distinctives in how the early church shared possessions compared with the surrounding cultures.

Paul and Empire: A Reframing of Romans 13:1-7 in the Context of the New Exodus
Ovidiu Hanc (Queen's University of Belfast)

In Romans 13:1-7, Paul wrote the most emphatic New Testament passage on relations with civil authority. The primary aim of this dissertation has been to propose a rereading of this passage on civil authority by framing it in the context of Paul's rabbinic education, his high view of Scripture, his own self-understanding, and especially in the larger New Exodus paradigm that is present in Romans as the archetype of salvation.

Thomas Aquinas on Hebrews: The Excellence of Christ
Dana Benesh (Baylor University)

Due to the influence of his two great Summae, Thomas Aquinas' reputation as a 'systematic' theologian far surpasses his reputation as a biblical exegete. Yet his commentaries merit attention due to Thomas' ability to explicate Scripture, his contributions to the development of exegesis, and the fact that his commentaries reflect the same doctrinal and theological concerns as his better-known works. An examination of Thomas Aquinas' commentary on Hebrews is worthwhile, given the growing interest in pre-modern exegesis as well as the priority that Thomas assigned to the epistle. Organizing the entire corpus of Scripture according to the purposes of God, Thomas orders the Old Testament books in regard to God as king or Father and the New Testament books in regard to Christ and the church. In Thomas' scheme, Hebrews comes immediately after the four gospels. Among all the epistles, Hebrews is preeminent, according to Thomas, because it reveals the power of the grace of Christ as head of the church. The aim of this dissertation is to understand and appreciate Thomas' exposition of Hebrews in the context of his theological works and in the context of medieval exegesis.


Articles in TynBul 65.1 (May 2014)

A Fake Coptic John and Its Implications for the 'Gospel of Jesus's Wife'
Christian Askeland (Indiana Wesleyan University)

The recent revelation of a Coptic Gospel of John fragment from the same source as the so-called 'Gospel of Jesus's Wife' has decisively altered the discussion concerning the authenticity of the 'Gospel of Jesus's Wife' fragment. The Coptic John fragment is a crude copy from Herbert Thompson's 1924 edition of the 'Qau codex' and is a product of the same modern writing event as the 'Gospel of Jesus's Wife' fragment. Both texts are modern forgeries written on genuinely ancient fragments of papyrus.

The Deliverance of Rahab (Joshua 2, 6) as the Gentile Exodus
Nicholas P. Lunn (Wycliffe Bible Translators, UK)

This short article argues for an intertextual interpretation of the Rahab narratives in the book of Joshua in the light of the deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt as recorded in the book of Exodus. The presence of a range of different verbal and thematic correspondences supports such a notion. This is further confirmed once a structural parallelism between the two portions of text is identified. Suggestions are given as to what the relationship was designed to indicate.

Then David Wrote a Letter (2 Sam. 11:14) – He Himself or Was It His Secretary? A Study of the Criteria for Handling the 'Semantic Causative'
Andreas Käser (Internationale Hochschule Liebenzell)

One often speaks of important people as if they did everything on their own. 'Caesar beat the Gauls', thus reads a verse in a poem by Bertolt Brecht. In the following line he makes the point: 'Did he not even have a cook with him?' This way of speaking about kings and lords, rulers and commanders, is a very common literary device used not only in many ancient but also in contemporary languages. In speech it is usually used unconsciously­and even decoded unconsciously. But it is at least noticeable, because sometimes the translators of the Old Testament use a causative in its place. As a result of this usually unnoticed decoding, this characteristic has rarely been explicitly described as a literary phenomenon. The only exception I know of is to be found in Hermann Menge's book about Latin syntax and stylistics, where it is referred to as a 'causative active'. Because it is grammatically an 'active' voice which is to be semantically decoded functionally as a 'causative', I would like to suggest calling this literary device a 'semantic causative'. Now, if this 'semantic causative' is a common form used when speaking about important people, it raises the question: are there criteria which enable us to determine which of the acts are carried out by themselves and which are delegated to others. In my opinion there are indeed certain criteria which can be used to exclude the one or other scenario, but oftentimes a grey area of uncertainty seems to remain. So, did David write this letter himself or was it written by a secretary? In the following I intend to investigate the question of whether a definite answer can be found.

Mothers of Offspring in 1–2 Kings: A Messianic Hope in David's Line?
Jesse R. Scheumann (Bethlehem College and Seminary, Minneapolis)

In the books of 1 and 2 Kings, the mothers of Judaean kings are given a unique focus in being mentioned. Historically-minded scholars, neglecting a more message-minded approach, have not sufficiently explored why this is the case. However, when viewed as an allusion to Genesis 3:15, the focus on mothers reveals a literary marking of each Judaean king as an offspring of the woman, maintaining messianic hope within a dark period of Judah's history.

Death-Dealing Witchcraft in the Bible? Notes on the Condemnation of the 'Daughters' in Ezekiel 13:17–23
John F. Evans (Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology)

The essay proposes a new reading of Ezekiel 13:17–23, drawing on ancient Near Eastern materials to argue that the exiled 'daughters' were likely not practising the binding magic of the kaššaptu (Akk.) 'witch' but a defensive, even therapeutic, binding magic similar to that of the Babylonian ašipu 'exorcist'. Through their magic-bands Ezekiel's female opponents are said to bring 'death' (v. 19), but this is best explained as either the women's prophetic declaration of who was to live or die, or as the judgement of YHWH upon those in the community who believed their 'lies' and 'false visions', refusing to heed Ezekiel's warnings. Deception by unauthorised prophecy, divination, and magic is the key issue..

Monotheism and the Language of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls
Michael S. Heiser (Bellingham, WA)

Most Hebrew Bible scholars believe that Israelite religion evolved from polytheism to monotheism, an evolution in which the biblical writers participated. The dominant version of this consensus is that this religious evolution culminated by the end of the exile or shortly thereafter. A minority perspective places the evolutionary end point later. At issue is the presence of the language of divine plurality, positive references to other gods ( or ) under YHWH's authority, in Jewish religious texts composed during and after the Second Temple period. This article surveys the language of divine plurality in the Hebrew Bible and the sectarian literature at Qumran to show its conceptual continuity and longevity, and rejects the notion that it is incongruent with a belief in the uniqueness of YHWH.

Testimony in John's Gospel: The Puzzle of 5:31 and 8:14
Thomas W. Simpson (Blavatnik School, University of Oxford)      101

Testimony is a central theme in John's Gospel and John has a developed view on how it works. This paper makes two contributions. First, I show the complexity and sophistication with which John handles different kinds of testimony in his narrative; this constitutes a category of evidence for the centrality of testimony not noted hitherto. Second, I address the central puzzle, namely the prima facie contradiction between 5:31 and 8:14. At issue is whether Jesus' testimony about himself requires corroborating testimony for it rationally to be believed. I argue that 8:14 has interpretative priority: according to John, no such corroboration is required.

The Interpretation of Pros in Romans 3:26
David Hall (Stamford Bridge, York)

In an article published in 1980, Richard Hays argued that Romans 3 should be seen as a unity. The whole chapter is an assertion of God's in­tegrity­that God is . Verses 21–26 'close the circle by answering the objections raised in verses 1–7'. Hays's thesis has been largely rejected. S. K. Stowers stated in 1984 that Hays was 'almost alone' in stressing the internal coherence of the argument in Romans 3, and subsequent scholarship has largely concentrated on the analysis of specific sections of the chapter rather than on the chapter as a whole. My aim in this article is to support Hays's thesis by examining verse 26, and in particular Paul's use of the preposition in that verse.

'Interpreting Homer from Homer': Aristarchus of Samothrace and the Notion of Scriptural Authorship in the New Testament
Benjamin Sargent (Bransgore, Hampshire)

This study attempts to explore certain exegetical arguments within the New Testament that operate upon the basis of an assumption that a scriptural text's meaning is in some way contingent upon its author. The exegetical and text-critical Homeric scholarship of Aristarchus of Samothrace is examined as a possible parallel to this assumption of authorial contingency. Aristarchus makes exegetical and text-critical decisions about the Iliad by means of a conception of Homer as the perfect writer. Whilst it is unlikely that any New Testament writer was aware of Aristarchus' work, Aristarchus undoubtedly represents more widespread Greek thought about authorship and meaning that may have been shared by certain New Testament writers.

Very Early Trinitarian Expressions
Very Early Trinitarian Expressions
Stuart E. Parsons (Trinity College of Florida)

While older scholarship identified the earliest use of Trinitarian terminology near the end of the second century in the work of Theophilus of Antioch, some recent studies have challenged this view. However, while affirming certain insights of these newer studies, it is necessary to revisit them in light of the historical setting of the second-century apologists. In reality, Theophilus and other early apologists evidenced a certain implicit Trinitarianism by affirming unity, distinction, eternal pre-existence and economic subordination in the Godhead. Studies of early Trinitarian terminology must look beyond explicit descriptions of the Godhead. They must consider also broad patterns of implicit Trinitarianism.

Dissertation Summaries:         

Codex Schøyen 2650
James M. Leonard (St Edmund's, Cambridge)

Codex Schøyen 2650 (hereafter, mae2) is a fragmentary yet substantial manuscript of Matthew's Gospel. It was written in a rare dialect of Coptic (Middle Egyptian). This thesis is the first substantial text-critical assessment of its implied underlying Greek text. Mae2 is significant for multiple reasons. First, it is often cited as having an early Fourth Century date, and as such, eleven of its chapters in their entirety, and a large number of verses elsewhere, may be the earliest witnesses to those respective parts of Matthew's Gospel. Secondly, it provides substantial attestation of a minor Coptic dialect which was hardly known until the second half of the Twentieth Century. Thirdly, its subdialect is hitherto unattested. Fourthly, it is independent from all other Coptic versions of Matthew. Fifthly, the text of mae2 is probably one of the earliest Middle Egyptian Coptic translations, and thus from it one might infer the boundaries early translators may have had in translation technique. Finally, as I have argued, when translational phenomena are identified and accounted for, mae2's strong alliance with both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus is evident, and this has implications for establishing the initial text of Matthew's Gospel and its early transmission history.

The Verb and the Paragraph in Biblical Hebrew: A Cognitive Linguistic Approach
Elizabeth Robar (Tyndale House)

The last few decades have witnessed a continual stream of publications on the biblical Hebrew verbal system, arguing whether it is fundamentally about aspect, or tense, or mood, or discourse pragmatics; or whether it is best understood synchronically, dia­chronically, or panchronically. In admittedly another work on the verbal system, this thesis constructs a theoretical framework that goes beyond postulating an additional possibility: it comprehensively includes the other views and explains how they relate to each other, including what value each has to offer. Within this framework, the thesis also suggests a new analysis of the waw-prefixed forms, the paragogic suffixes (including energic nun), and the semantic analysis of qatal and yiqtol.